Bid to cut cancer deaths

HARARE - Zimbabwe is launching an audacious effort to try to reduce cancer deaths and improve early detection of the disease.

Government was mulling offering medical resources in the national budget for the cure.

This emerged after Manicaland senator Anthony Chimhini asked government to urgently seek to prevent and control cancer.

The Senator said there have been some impressively effective campaigns around Aids, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, and other infectious diseases, but noted there were already more deaths in the country from cancer than from Aids, TB and malaria combined.

Zimbabwe’s Cancer Registry statistics show that cancer cases have escalated by six percent.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said it’s a question he has been struggling with for several months.

“...we have been engaging development partners and also internally, we have been trying to see what we can come out to fight this major problem, this non communicable disease, which is cancer,” Chinamasa said.

“I hope that in the next budget we will have something to say on this subject matter because it is affecting even young people.

“It is something that was unknown many years ago as the disease used to affect people of a certain age and above, but right now it is almost across all age groups. So, we need now to start addressing this issue.”

The most commonly diagnosed cancers among all Zimbabweans were cervical cancer (18percent), Kaposi sarcoma (10percent), breast cancer (7 percent), prostate cancer (7percent), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (6percent), nonmelanoma skin cancer (6percent), esophageal cancer (4percent), colorectal cancer (4percent), and squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva (3percent)

Oncologists are few in Zimbabwe. There are a few trained cancer doctors who serve a country of 13 million people.

Good quality data is also hard to come by, and the two main hospitals equipped to treat cancer – hardly see between four new cancer patients a day.

The result is that the reality for many in Zimbabwe is that a cancer diagnosis means a painful and distressing death. The overwhelming number of cases and the paucity of funds, doctors and treatment mean it’s difficult to know where to start.

But cancer experts and advocacy groups say what’s needed first is greater awareness.

Comments (2)

Development partners are in fact the much vilified NGOs by Mugabe.

Cyril - 28 December 2016

Amazingly, no mention of lung cancer despite high smoking levels in Zimbabwe. 3-nitrobenzanthrone is the most potent carcinogen known and is found in diesel exhaust. Perhaps the Dema diesel electricity generator may change that.

George Turner - 28 December 2016

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